Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pacifica Radio and Indignant Listeners

The Jewish Journal reported a disturbing story about a talk show in Los Angeles that crosses all lines in its discussion of Israel and Jews. The article details a lopsided enforcement of civility that gives free rein to Arab homicidal rage yet presses the mute button on any opposition to it. The following excerpt gives a sense of what listeners in Los Angeles heard.

A caller identifying himself as Mohammed said, “I believe that so-called Israel should be annihilated totally, wiped off the map ... I hope that Iran has the gall to nuke and exterminate them so they go back to Europe.

“And as long as there is one Palestinian man, woman or child, there will be no peace in Palestine ... as far as I’m concerned, so-called Israel should be exterminated from the face of the earth. That’s my personal opinion. They have no right to exist….”

Augustin Cebada, the show’s host, did not interrupt or argue. He let Mohammed finish, then said, “OK, maybe those are your opinions, and there’s probably a lot of people out there who agree with you. We have free speech in this country….”

Cebada later took a call from Dan, who objected to what he’d just heard: “When a caller calls with that kind of hatred, that kind of Nazi rhetoric, that Israel should be wiped off the map, that’s what fuels the fire, and you people did not respond by saying, ‘This is the kind of hatred we don’t need.’ And that’s what’s fueling the hatred, isn’t it?”

This time, Cebada cut the caller off, saying: “There’s a lot of hatred in your voice, Dan, in your tone. This program offers a forum so people can express what they’re feeling….”

The radio station in question, KPFK FM is part of the Pacifica network has been famous since the early sixties for championing any anti American cause that they could find.

Years ago, I was listening to WBAI, their New York affiliate and a program sponsored by the North American Man Boy Love Association came on. During a fund raising drive, program hosts defended the program on free speech grounds. Sometimes, when a periodic fund raising drive is drawing near, the stations and the network will make lame gestures of concern as shown in the following announcement on the KPFK web site.

KPFK Programming In The News

The recent article published in The Jewish Journal website on March 18 and regarding a program we air named La Causa, is of great concern to KPFK and the Pacifica Foundation. KPFK has taken immediate measures to review and address some of the allegations and concerns expressed in this article and we'll do so with the programmer in question and in great detail. KPFK is committed to fulfilling the Pacifica Foundation mission and creating a balance in the complex, independent and autonomous programming structure that makes the current programming line up at KPFK. We Thank You for your continued support and ask that you allow us the time necessary to address this matter fully and with the best possible outcome.

Station Management

The reprehensible programming on Pacifica stations sometimes attracts the ire of listeners. WBAI in New York has occasionally appealed to listeners to earmark contributions for specific programs of which listeners may approve such programs on classical music and jazz. Some irate listeners have been known to tie up the fund raising operators with crank phone calls. A far more subversive way of expressing disapproval is to phone in fake pledges. Eventually, the extremely low rate of pledges being honoured could be construed as a referendum on the programming of Pacifica and its affiliates. It has been reported that large pledges are verified with a call back. For this reason, activists who oppose any part of the Pacifica radical agenda have often made small pledges, which are followed up by mail, which costs the station money as well.

I do not of course condone or advocate such action as has been taken by community activists opposed to the Pacifica radical agenda. I am simply reporting in a factual manner how indignant citizens have expressed their displeasure with the Pacifica agenda. I hope my readers will simply not make any pledges during the fund raising drives of Pacifica affiliates. I would never condone flooding the station with fake pledges. That might make "free speech" a bit costly.

And I certainly would not condone making crank phone calls such as made by one gentleman who quietly made a five hundred dollar pledge. When asked if it would be check, Master Card or Visa, he replied that he was making a contribution through Visa. When the pledge operator asked for his Visa number the crank caller replied. "Get a visa to go to North Korea ! Because that is where you belong."

The pledge operator replied with some naughty language that is usually intercepted by the seven second delay button before it hits the air.

Although obscene and threatening phone calls can be traced instantly with modern technology, fake pledges and the occasional exercise of free speech would not run afoul of any state or federal law.

I am presenting the reaction of outraged citizens to Pacifica programming simply for educational purposes. I am sure that my readers would not engage in such activities themselves. The last thing I would want would be for people to actually copy the pranks I have described. So please monitor the programming of Pacifica radio associates and express your displeasure responsibly. Sphere: Related Content

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